Agency Weighs Next Move After Terri Schiavo Judge Rejects Delay

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 10, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Agency Weighs Next Move After Terri Schiavo Judge Rejects Delay

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 10, 2005

Clearwater, FL ( — The Florida Department of Children and Families is weighing its next move following a decision Thursday by Circuit Court Judge George Greer. He decided against allowing a 60 day delay of starving Terri Schiavo while the agency investigates charges that her estranged husband Michael abused and neglected her.

DCF spokesman Tim Bottcher said the agency is considering its legal options, but would not comment further.

One option for DCF to consider is whether to take Terri into protective custody and to move ahead with an investigation into the charges. That could keep her feeding tube in place and prevent her scheduled starvation on March 18 from taking place.

David Gibbs, an attorney for Terri’s parents Bob and Mary Schindler, said the agency could take custody of Terri just as it does children by removing them from homes in abusive situations.

"The courts are telling the Department of Children & Families, ‘You can’t do your job as mandated by the Legislature,’ and I think that’s inappropriate," Gibbs told the Orlando Sentinel newspaper. "We’re obviously waiting to see what they (DCF) will do next, but they certainly have the option of an appeal and taking Terri into custody."

Florida Governor Jeb Bush indicated he was disappointed by the ruling.

"I don’t know how DCF can’t be involved,” Bush said. "There’s a law that says if the hot line is called and there’s a warranted need for an investigation that there ought be an investigation.”

The Schindlers still have legal battles brewing in their effort to save their daughter. A Florida appeals court is scheduled to rule next week on those motions.

Finally, Congress and the Florida state legislature are looking to pass legislation that could possibly save Terri’s life.